Most of us have dipped our feet in that dreaded black pool of anxiety, stress, and depression at some time or the other. Our modern lives are so jam-packed with stimuli that there is less time for good old human interaction. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why stress gets to dominate our lives.
Just the other day, I was talking with my friends about how so many of us feel that this blight is becoming a common topic of conversation these days. I’m no psychiatrist or mental health professional, yet it seems to me that avoiding plunging into the crevasse is becoming harder and harder. And the worst thing is that there are very few parameters for drawing a box around the symptoms and ticking them off. It can hit you at any age, it is independent of your economic situation, your physical health, your ethnic background, your level of education, or accomplishments.
One of my friends, let’s call her Em, had everything going for her – a good job, a loving family, fairly good health. Yet she succumbed to severe depression and had to be seen by mental health professionals for the treatment. She recounted how she was afraid to face the day, and that even the thought of getting ready for her job in the morning, brought on panic attacks. She was prescribed medication, and with the help of her doctors, and family, was able to surface. Another friend, P, described how she felt ‘alone’ and that ‘nobody really needed her’. She felt suicidal, she said.
It terrifies me, the randomness of this condition. What is it that pushes us over the edge of that precipice? And don’t think that it’s just women. I have an uncle who, even to my inexpert eye, looks to be suffering from depression. He sleeps most of time, just waking up to eat, bathe and relieve himself. He is around 80 years of age, and he’s been like this for almost 10 years now. He has lost interest in everything that he was passionate about – cricket, movies and news.
Battling this disease is not easy, as we all know. It’s not a physical disease that we just go to a doctor, run some tests, and take our prescribed medicines. Is it a chemical imbalance, hormonal change, or something in the hardwiring of our brains that causes this condition? No idea.
Tips to help
All I know is that these are some ways I use to drive away the demons of anxiety when they start their wicked dance in my head:
- Call upon my trusted network of friends/family to just talk
- Engage in a creative activity (painting/writing/cooking/scrapbooking)
- Enumerate consciously all the good things in my life
- Practice breathing deeply, and being in the moment
- If possible, walking outside and admiring nature
Now, I realize these may not work for everyone, but these methods are tried and tested, and work for me. I am learning to ‘be’ in the moment, and not allowing my thoughts to be caught in the spiral of the past and future. The Buddha preached the wisdom of living in the present. Such a simple thing, but so hard to do!
If you would like to share your story, or just talk, feel free to contact me. Connections are an important way to begin the process of helping yourself.